Incident reports detail University Village tragedy

MUPD reports show University Village residents at first thought their roof was collapsing.

When University Village resident Ghazwan Alwan heard a loud noise early on the morning of Feb. 22, he thought the roof was caving in.

MUPD incident reports obtained by KRCG 13 Thursday show emergency units arrived at the University Village Apartments within three minutes of Alwanâ??s 911 call. According to the reports, Alwan told police that when he looked out his window and saw help arriving, he noticed a dip in the walkway in front of his apartment. He also saw something hanging from the walkway that looked out of place.

As personnel arrived on the scene, MUPD Sgt. Alan Fish joined Lt. Bruce Britt and another firefighter, identified only as â??Firefighter Cash,â?? and walked up the steps to the second floor walkway of building 707. Fish wrote in his report that Britt led their group, knocking on doors as they went. When they reached Alwanâ??s apartment, Fish and Cash stopped to check on them. Britt continued along the walkway.

At this point, emergency personnel were unsure what damage there was, if any. Officer Joshua Harrington wrote that he could not see any damage to building 707â??s roof, and Officer Rodney Stewart wrote that firefighters radioed everyone in the area to say they could not see any, either. Harrington and Stewart decided to look for damage on other buildings and walked toward building 708.

Back on the walkway, Fish heard a loud bang and looked left.

â??I observed the concrete walkway collapsing towards me and brick being pulled off the front of the building,â?? he wrote. â??The walkway began falling from the south end and outer edge next to the railing, with the side connected to the building falling a split second later.â??

He could no longer see Britt.

Fish and Cash ran to the right, away from the collapsing walkway, until they reached the staircase at the other end. The collapse stopped just feet from Alwanâ??s apartment.

Harrington and Stewart heard a loud noise as they were walking between buildings. They looked back and saw a cloud of dust in front of building 707. They ran back toward the building. When they got there, Harrington shined his flashlight on the debris. The beam hit something reflective and he realized he was looking at reflective stripes on a firefighterâ??s turnout gear. Harrington called out that someone was trapped under the debris. Firefighters rushed to the spot.

â??After what seemed to be several long minutes, they were able to retrieve the firefighter by raising part of the collapsed balcony off of him,â?? Harrington wrote.

Britt was pronounced dead at University Hospital.

Later that morning, MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin ordered an inspection of all university-owned buildings. That inspection is ongoing, but MUPD Detective Sam Easleyâ??s report suggests the University Village Apartments were severely deteriorated. Easley wrote that he saw â??severe rustingâ?? on the metal underneath the walkway and on the outer metal portion when he arrived later that morning. He wrote that the concrete on the remaining walkway was also deteriorated and looked flaked and distressed. Crews have since removed a deteriorated walkway from another building officials say had been unoccupied for the last four years.